IDK - “Is He Real?” Album Review

Story posted September 9, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Connor Trask

Maryland rapper IDK, formerly known as Jay IDK, is here to make an impact with his debut album “Is He Real?” IDK is not new to the game, though. At 27 years old, IDK has mixtapes and EPs on streaming platforms already; this is just his major label debut.

The title and artwork of the album itself are thought-provoking, and “Is He Real?” is more of a serious discussion than his past projects. Prior to this album, IDK had released rather incomplete projects filled with loose songs from his archives.

“Cloud Blu” sets the tone for the album from the start. The introductory song opens with a conversation between what appears to be a father and son, discussing their faith. The child speaks about the afterlife before coming to a harsh conclusion about his faith.

One of the greatest strengths of this IDK project is that the transitions between songs are so smooth that one can barely tell when the next song begins. The album is best listened to in its entirety, and the relatively short length of the album is inviting for the listener.

The soft introduction quickly transitions into the next song, “42 Hundred Choices,” using a heavy bassline to change the mood. IDK’s ability to transition from a discussion of faith to this track about his past showcases his artistic talent.

“Alone” lets the listener know that IDK does not limit himself as a rapper. Catchy synths and melodic vocals are the highlight of this track, and it’s a huge part of what makes the album stand out.

“24” was released in July as the lone single to be issued prior to the album itself. The track encourages users to “run it back” by looping smoothly into itself while also being able to transition into the next song on the album.

Another strength of the album is the great variety of guest features present. The features are not credited on the album, so it’s up to the listener to pinpoint these appearances (though a quick Google search reveals the list of who is who on every song).

“Porno” has the two most distinct features on the album, as both Pusha T and J.I.D have easily recognizable voices. The other artists featured on the project are Tyler, the Creator, Burna Boy, and GLC. IDK himself said that Frank Ocean was also supposed to make an appearance on the album, but his feature was not cleared in time.

The song that seems most suited for a Frank Ocean feature is “European Skies.” This song has a slow buildup that opens into a soft beat with a lot of instrumental room to add more vocals over.

“European Skies” is also one of the more thought-provoking songs on the album. IDK approaches this song like a spoken-word performance, boldly questioning the origins of religious beliefs.

As “Is He Real?” comes to its conclusion, IDK is open and vulnerable. The final two songs “Michael What TF” and “Julia…” both discuss the family issues IDK had to deal with.

“Michael What TF” is a controlled disaster of emotions, in which IDK mentions his late mother and his troubling stepfather. “Julia…” is an ode to IDK’s late mother, and it wraps up the album in a beautiful way. IDK allows himself to appear vulnerable to the listener, which is a step in the right direction for male rappers.

There is no denying that “Is He Real?” is a work of art, and it gives the listener a lot to think about. Whether or not you are captivated by IDK’s storytelling is up to opinion, but the album as a whole was soundly produced. It will be interesting to see where IDK goes from here.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Porno,” “Alone”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: N/A

 

Connor Trask is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email cst5140@psu.edu.